New planner readies campus for disasters

When the "Big One" hits Vancouver, Jody Sydor wants to be sure the UBC community knows how to respond.

But Sydor, UBC's new emergency planning co-ordinator in Health, Safety and Environment, isn't just thinking about major disasters such as earthquakes.

It's important, she says, that UBC staff, faculty and students know how to react in emergencies of any scale, from hazardous materials incidents to fires or major storms.

"It's key that people know their role in emergencies of any nature," says Sydor, who worked with the Canadian Red Cross on disaster relief efforts during the Manitoba flood last year, and the 1994 Penticton forest fire evacuation.

"I'm here to develop systems so that we can withstand the myriad of emergencies that can occur on a day-to-day basis."

The training of faculty, staff and students for roles on response teams, in rapid building damage assessment, personal preparedness and fire planning is an important component of Sydor's job.

"UBC is like a small city," she says. "It has all the advantages of a community, such as fire department, ambulance, RCMP, and a hospital, all on-site. We have to ensure, however, that these groups know how to work with staff, faculty and students and are aware of the roles that each should and can play in an emergency situation."

Sydor will work on the development of the university's emergency response plan and related policies, while also establishing an emergency operation centre. Tentatively located in the University Services Building, the centre will become the command post for emergency response efforts.

Sydor will also participate in emergency scenarios, which have been held annually on campus for several years.

The scenarios, which have included staged motor vehicle accidents and chemical spills, allow local emergency services to co-ordinate a response with university groups that include Health, Safety and Environment, Parking and Transportation and Campus Security, the hospital, and Public Affairs.

For information on emergency preparedness on campus or the university's emergency plans, contact the emergency planning office at 604-822-1237 or e-mail